The Tai Chi Chuan families who ascribe the foundation of their art to Zhang traditionally celebrate his birthdate as the 9th day of the 3rd Chinese lunar month.
Much of the written material about him is mythical, contradictory, or otherwise suspect. For instance, he is reported by different people to have been born either in 960, 1247, or in 1279. He has at times been described as being seven-feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, having whiskers shaped like a spear, and being able to cover 1000 li in a day (roughly 580 km or 350 miles). He is reputed to have worn a straw hat, and is usually depicted with one slung on his back, but two villages are reported in the 19th century Wu-yang Gazeteer (Wu-yang hsien-chih) to have believed that his hat was actually a cymbal, which only residents of the villages (famous for manufacturing cymbals) had permission to sound upon meeting him. Some sources record two Chinese emperors sending missions to Zhang Sanfeng to ask for his advice, although neither mission is reported to have found him.
大多数关于他的文章都说极富神话色彩，自相矛盾或者令人怀疑。例如，不同的人对他的生日的说法不同：他出生在960, 1247, 或者 1279年。他有时被描述成七尺高，有鹤骨，站如松，有着长矛一般的胡子，能够日行千里（大约580公里或者350公里）。据说他戴着一顶破草帽，背着弓，但是据吴杨地志记载，有两个村子称他的帽子是一个钵 ，只有这个以制钵文明的村子的村民有权敲响这个钵来召唤他。有些文献记载两位皇帝下令向张三丰咨询建议，但是他们都没有找到他。
Today, Chinese readers and general public are most acquainted with Jin Yong's version of Zhang Sanfeng, thanks to the popularity of his Wuxia novels. In his book The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber, Zhang Sanfeng was a former Shaolin disciple in the late Song Dynasty, and born on April 9, 1247 at midnight (Day 9 of month 3 in Chinese calendar). He later left Shaolin Temple and established the Taoist monasteries in Wudang Mountains. In the book he had seven disciples, and was alive until the late Yuan Dynasty. According to many regional gazettes, Zhang Sanfeng was seen at the end year of tianshun reign (1457-1464), having lived for more than 200 years.